Anxiety and stress are common feelings we all experience. Many of our members tell us they lean on Abide prayers to help them through their anxiety. Today we begin our "Overcoming Stress" blog series. In this 5 part series, we'll addresses common circumstances that can cause stress (i.e. work, relationships, finances, etc.) and how to successfully handle them. Our authors discuss tools and tips that can help us through these trying times.
This week, we explore how work can cause sleepless nights and endless anxiety. Neil Ahlsten, CEO and Co-Founder of Abide, shares how he deals with the stress of running a company.
3 Secrets To Handle The Stress Of Starting A Company
Family and faith help weather storms.
When I left Google in 2014 to found a tech startup on guided prayer (Abide), I had no idea how relentless the stress would be. When we still had no revenue, I needed to get my employees competitive salaries to cover the cost of living in the pricey Bay Area. I owed investors hundreds of thousands of dollars before we had a single customer. Key influencers swore they loved our first product during trials, then didn’t use it in real life. A large business partner fell short on promises. And when our traffic took off, our servers overloaded, leading to 5am wake up calls and long hard days trying to right our infrastructure and keep our paying customers happy. On top of that, I have four kids and a wife to support.
For the first time in my life, I started to have late nights of insomnia and would feel a knot of anxiety deep inside. I was facing the anxiety that impacts roughly one in three US adults, but I was fortunate to have some secrets to help me through. Since anxiety is one of the top issues our customers face, we’ve run numerous trials to help people pray through their worries and anxiety with some very interesting results. Some of the best counters to anxiety rely on family and faith. Here are three things to do when I am overwhelmed with anxiety:
Talk About It With Someone Who Cares
My wife, Nadia, is incredibly supportive. She believes in me and in my dreams. One day Apple accidentally removed our app from iTunes and canceled purchases from tons of our subscribers. Nadia listened to me, shared my anger, helped me to laugh, made me homemade sushi, and encouraged me to keep fighting. Then she prayed for protection from spiritual attack and that God would call his angels to protect me. These prayers brought me huge strength, which leads me to my second secret.
Take Time To Pray
Science is showing that meditation and prayer are effective at lowering anxiety. Our studies and my own experience have shown three things about prayer that work.
- Consider the character of a loving God. Remember that God has plans for you to prosper (Jeremiah 29), God loves you with an everlasting love (Psalm 145) and God promises that no weapon formed against you will succeed (Isaiah 54).
- Name your worries and anxieties in prayer. Naming them helps take their weight off of your chest.
- Finally, when you name them, actively hand them over to God’s control. These simple steps are helping me live in confidence, boldness and peace. With this confidence, I can face pretty much anything. Take a minute to try it for yourself. To start, pray through the scripture of I Peter 5:7"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
Know When To Shut Off Your Work
Running a company is a multi year marathon. Sprinting without breaks will burn you out of the race. Even though it’s hard to unplug from emails and chat, I shut off my phone in the evening to eat with my wife and kids. On weekends, I play soccer with my twin boys, Amani and Zeke. I also take long walks with my wife, bike with my children, and picnic in Golden Gate Park. These small acts help maintain balance and give perspective to my work.
These are three tools I use to manage never-ending wheel of work stress. What are some effective habits you use to manage stress? Would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.